Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Grave Markers

The term "grave marker" is pretty straightforward: it refers to an above-ground item or monument that indicates where a person is buried. The type of marker that a person plans to have marking his or her grave or that a family selects after a person has died can depend on many different things: financial resources, aesthetic preference, culture, religion, geographic location-just to name a few. I'm going to share some of the types of grave markers that I've encountered in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

This table tomb, or pedestal tomb, was in Raleigh, NC's City Cemetery. This kind of marker was popular in England and in our country's southeastern states. 
Table tomb


Next to this grave was another table marker, which resembles a box marker but what differentiates the two is that a table marker can stand if one of the sides is removed. As you can see, part of this marker is missing on one side.



Raleigh-City Cemetery



A tablet marker is a slab of stone, metal, or wood that stands upright, either with or without a base. This example of a thin stone tablet has a gothic arch.


Mt. View, Danville, VA


Markers made to look like rustic boulders or field stones became popular in the mid-1900s. This is the back of one such monument. The front of the boulder on the left is more textured, but I neglected to photograph it.




Highland Burial Park, Danville, VA




Ledgers are very thin slabs of stone that sit very low to the ground, without a headstone or footstone. These ledgers are in All Saints Episcopal Church's cemetery in Pawleys Island, SC.







This desk marker is in Danville's Green Hill Cemetery. It has a slanted top and features a scroll on the top of the desk part. This particular desk top sits on a pedastal, but often they are found without the pedestal, just sitting on the ground.





All Saints, SC



Flower box markers are common for burials during the Victorian Era. In those days, graveyards were treated more as parks, where families gathered for picnics or to spend time at the gravesite, perhaps tending to the flowers that had been planted in the flower box piece of the marker. In addition to a headstone, flower boxes have a curb that sits a few inches above the ground with a stone bed several inches below. This is where the dirt is filled in to create the "box."    Children's flower box markers are often called cradles. The photo on the right was taken in Greensboro's old First Presbyterian Church cemetery and shows the marker without dirt. These are often called bedstead markers because they resemble the headboard, footboard, and frame of a bed.




Pedestal marker contain a wide variety of shapes and architectural styles, including obelisks. An obelisk has four sides and the tops can be vaulted, unadorned, or have decorative items at the top point such as urns, lamps, or drapes. This vaulted obelisk is in Danville's Oak Hill Cemetery.

This photo from Raleigh's City Cemetery contains several pedestal markers.




Here's a brick oven style grave from Danville's Grove Street Cemetery. I'm not sure if the body is actually inside the bricks or underground. Many times this type of grave is called a "false crypt."




This marker is from Danville's Schoolfield Cemetery and has a double tympanum. Often these types of headstones, sometimes called "twin markers" are found on the graves of married couples or siblings.








I have only seen one tent grave; this one was in Raleigh's City Cemetery. This style was probably introduced as a means to keep cattle or other animals from walking on the grave or to help shield the grave from the elements.





Open book markers are a nod to the Bible. They were frequently made of marble and used to mark the grave of a husband and wife.






I've written about angel statue and markers here and tree form markers here

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